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Look Further Afield
  |  First Published: June 2010



Even though many anglers will be missing their favourite targets of bass and estuary perch in Western Sydney, there are 160+ finned fish species in the Hawkesbury/Nepean River, so why don’t you mix things up and try something new?

Reports show that there are regular tangles with healthy jewfish, bream and flathead, with by-catches of tailor and other species in the region.

A popular target for some anglers this time of year is blackfish around Wisemans Ferry. Blackfish are mainly targeted by the ‘older’ generation, as the younger fishos tend to go for more active species. Surprisingly, large numbers have been found along weed covered rock walls 50km from the entrance of Broken Bay.

A species that is not commonly thought to be found in western Sydney is trout. Take a drive over the Great Western Highway to the rivers, streams and dams, and you’ll find a healthy supply of them. While their numbers are not going to be the same as you’d expect over the hill, there are quite a few roaming in the cooler waters of the Nepean throughout the cold months.

Warragamba Dam has large trout living quite happily away from anglers, as it’s a restricted area and off limits. However, some of the trout have found their way into the Warragamba River below the dam wall, and have been caught by surprised anglers as far up as Yarramundi in the colder months.

Access to the Warragamba River by boat is best done through the boat ramp at Tench Reserve at Penrith and heading upstream. On the way to the mouth of the river, the water gets shallow and rocks become a problem, so slow down. Once you’re near the mouth, just take it steady and be careful of the shallow water and associated obstacles.

The best way to fish it would be by canoe or kayak, accessing the river nearby if you have a 4WD vehicle. Accessing it from the boat ramp at Tench Reserve is not a good idea, unless you like lots of paddling.

For those under paddle power, and who have chosen to get in close to launch, drive to Wallacia and take the Silverdale Road. The first turn to your right once on the Silverdale Road is Nortons Basin Road. Take this road and it will lead you down to Warragamba Park. This is bound on three sides by the Warragamba and Nepean rivers, so access is relatively straight forward regardless of whether you’re on foot or plan to paddle your way.

If you’re relying on getting in on foot to fish along the banks of the Warragamba River, it can be heavy going with more time spent hopping over rocks than actually fishing, which makes a boat, kayak or canoe a great choice. If fishing on foot is your only option, it’s still a pleasant walk in. There are spots where you can safely wet a line and enjoy the solitude, without having to move about.

A good 2-4kg spin rod, is a good choice in the area, with rod length really depending on the angler and whether you’re planning to fish from the bank or from the water. Rod length can range from 5’6” to 7’. A 7’ rod might be considered too long when walking the bank, the extra length can come in very handy when a longer cast in required.

However, long rods can be inconvenient in bank side fishing but a spinning rod can give you so many different types of casting options, which is ideal when vegetation behind you makes casting difficult. They are a very versatile casting tool, and a two piece model makes walking in and out of the bush a lot easier.

Worms fished under a float or on the river bottom are the best bait, and if you’ve got a healthy supply of worms in your garden you won’t have to spend a cent on bait. I’ve got a worm farm at home, and those little guys really like breeding!

If soaking a bait is not your style, there’s always lures. I suspect that there are some anglers who have never seen or have forgotten about Celtas. These come in a variety of sizes and some basic colours, but their success on trout should needs no introduction. Rala Count Downs are also very effective lures.

Budget Reedemers

I’m not sure where the price of lures is going to stop, and while many of Japanese lures are fantastic in terms of finish and features, they are verging on the ridiculous when it comes to price. I don’t know about you, but I’m not too inclined to cast a $40 lure into the oyster racks or under some gnarly trees for a bass.

Troll Craft produce a good range of lures that suit all types of Australian fish and, after changing the split rings and hooks on these lures, I have found them to be very effective at catching all types of species such as bass, estuary perch, bream and flathead with their smaller lures. And best of all, they are reasonably priced product.

Reminder

The three month closed season on bass and estuary perch in all rivers and estuaries in NSW started on June 1. The zero bag limit was introduced because of feedback from the community during the three-year review into recreational fishing rules, and is meant to protect these important recreational species while both are spawning.

Sadly, both species are vulnerable to over fishing because they gather in large schools and are easily targeted by those who care little for them. This sadly has happened in the past and, while it probably still happens today, is being actively discouraged by responsible anglers and authorities.

Fisheries Officers will be increasing their patrols of bass and estuary perch waters to advise anglers on fishing rules and to enforce size and bag limits for other species. If you get busted with a bass or estuary perch you can be issued with a fine of $500.

There’s other species to target at this time of the year, and if you do catch a bass or estuary perch during the three month closed season, they must be immediately returned to the water with the least possible harm. Don’t keep them in a live well for a photo later. Release the fish as quickly and gently as possible.

Photos

I get proud anglers sending me photos of some great fish hoping to get them included in upcoming editions of this column. It’s frustrating both for me and them, when the photo’s can’t be used in the magazine because they were taken in small resolution on their cameras. Small resolution shots can’t be used in magazines, regardless of how good the fish is because the quality in any enlargements makes them unusable.

If you want to brag to everyone about you and your prized catch making it into this magazine, make sure your camera is set to take pics in medium or high resolution. Send them to me in that configuration, and all is sweet.

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